Pizzeria and community activist save the day at soup kitchen

Sam Dalia of TJ's Pizza shows off one of his trays of ziti donated to Dutchess Outreach on Tuesday.

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Lunch Box, a Poughkeepsie soup kitchen that provides hot lunches and dinners for those needing a good meal, had an emergency on Tuesday that almost forced them to close for the day until Frankie Flowers and TJ’s Pizza stepped in to save the day.

The Lunch Box has two employees that cook food daily and it is served by volunteers.  On Monday night, one employee was stricken with the flu and the second also came down with an illness.  Neither was able to work on Tuesday which would have forced the closure of the kitchen.

Dutchess Outreach Associate Director Tara Whalen reached out to Frankie Flowers of the John Flowers Foundation early on Tuesday, asking for help.  Flowers, in turn, called Sam Dalia of TJ’s Pizza on Main Street and asked for assistance.  

By 9 a.m., Dalia had agreed to donate 12 pizzas and three trays of baked ziti to help feed the hungry for the day.  While Dalia was putting the food together at his shop, Whalen and a few other Dutchess Outreach employees went through the kitchen’s cold storage and mustered up enough leftover food to provide the 11 a.m. lunches for clients.

The sizeable donations from the Dalia family arrived at approximately 12:30 p.m. and were set aside to be used for Tuesday evening’s dinner service.  “We don’t do this for the attention,” said Dalia, adding “We’ve all been in need at one time – we’re just glad we could help out.”

TJ’s Pizza donated several pizzas to the Lunch Box at Dutchess Outreach to avoid people going hungry on Tuesday.

Whalen praised both TJ’s Pizza and Frankie Flowers.  “Sam and his family helped a substantial number of people Tuesday.  What they did for the less-fortunate is nothing short of incredible,” said the associate director.  “Frankie Flowers deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his help.  Not many people would answer the 8 a.m. call and immediately spring into action to help feed the hungry but Frankie did and we’re glad ” added Whalen.

She noted that a contingency plan has been put in place to keep the kitchen operational until the staff is healthy enough to return.  “We can always use volunteer groups that are willing to come in and cook our food and serve it to those in need.”

Interested organizations can contact Dutchess Outreach’s Volunteer Coordinator, Nyhisha Gibbs at 845-454-3792.

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